We come now to some early but modest little pendant flowers, the Dog's Tooth Violets, or Ery-throniums, which want moisture and semi-shade. Once we had only the purple and the white Erythroniums Dens-Canis, but American floriculturists introduced bigger sorts, and other hues. For example, E. Hartwegii is bright gold, Revolutum ivory and orange, Grandiflorum Matador, rose. They begin in March, and keep on blossoming till the end of May, and then their leaves are decorative.
Plant bulbs 3 inches deep and 2 inches apart, from August onwards. Pot bulbs 1 inch deep and 1 inch apart. Keep in cold frame or cool windows until February, giving scarcely any water before then: remove pots to moderately warmed greenhouse, or warm window (shading from sunshine) when buds are beginning. Dainty, poetic, little subjects, tenderly loved by some persons.
Those words apply equally to the Hardy Cyclamen, which may be grown in the same way, though there is this difference, that it is best, every year after the leaves have died off, to mulch round the plants with decayed cow-manure and leaf-mould, after scratching away the old bed until the corms stand partly revealed. And pot-plants should be kept always in cold frames or unheated greenhouses.
The marbled leaves have a charm: the blossoms are like greenhouse Cyclamen, only smaller and frailer.
Deep crimson, with all-dark leaves.
White. Finely mottled foliage.
They are charming, as are most small bulbous plants, among the big roots of fine trees.
Hardy Cyclamen flower extremely early in some places; indeed an old author declares they 'salute the opening year,' then proceeds to explain that 'the name of the genus, taken from the Greek, and signifying "circular," is expressive either of the leaves, or, more probably, of the numerous serpentine coils into which the fruit-stalks entwine themselves. The bulbs of this and the other species of Cyclamen are as large as a guinea-fowl's egg.. They contain a great degree of acridity. In the north of Italy swine feed upon them, hence the name by which this plant is often called of sow-bread. It is not till the beautiful flowers of the Cyclamen wither away that the stalks assume the coiled form before alluded to; when, screwing themselves round, they enclose the rudiments of the fruit in the centre, and lying down among the foliage, remain in that position till it comes to maturity.'
Planting Bulbs between Tree Roots.
The Common Purple Orchid Of Our Woods, its paler variety, and all others that can be found growing wild in the kingdom, would succeed in places where Cyclamen have thrived, and are easily dug up and transplanted when going out of bloom. Rockeries are excellent for both classes of plant.
It is customary for people to complain of having shady spots in their gardens, dull alleys between buildings, maybe, or borders against cold walls, where 'nothing but ferns will grow.' It would not be a serious risk to bet heavily on the willingness of the Solomon's Seal to assist ferns to hide ugliness. Whether one calls it by this old name, or Lady's Seal, David's Harp, Lily of the Mountain, or Ladder to Heaven, Polygonatum multiflorum is a far fairer flower, and plant too, than is generally admitted. One nearly unique merit it has, too - the giant Lily of the Valley suggesting furled pea-green spikes of leaves with which it breaks through the beds and borders very early each year. I would say to all owners of shady gardens, do not be content till you have plenty of types of this graceful ornament. Polygonatum multiflorum has a dwarf variety, and also a variegated one. Polygonatum latifolium is a giant, often 4 feet high, and the florets are in clusters, not only set demurely two by two. There is a rose-coloured Polygonatum now, and a pale lilac one, I hear.
Plant the fleshy roots 3 inches deep, and mulch with manure each March.
All owners of frames, cold or cool greenhouses, or lovers of room plants, should grow Solomon's Seals in pots, and if there happens to be a greenhouse of from 50° to 65°, in January or February, pot-specimens can be forced into bloom. There is no need to wait till flower spikes show, for indeed there are none, the blossom comes on the leaf stems. The young growth does not mind being hastened.
Solomon's Seals, Bleeding Heart Flowers (Dicentras), And Spiraeas will furnish a small sunny but unheated conservatory very attractively in spring, or a moderately warmed one yet earlier, before wintry weather has gone.
They are all easily grown, in equal parts of loam, leaf-mould, and sand, the roots squeezed rather into six- or seven-inch pots, and just kept from going dry until growth appears, then watered moderately as a prelude to being watered immoderately when in full vigour. Forced plants should be put into the garden ground for a year's blooming, then will do for pot culture again for the following blossom-tide.
The Christmas Rose would be far more grown, no doubt, if there were not delusions abroad as to its being difficult to succeed with in pots, and certain to be weather-spoilt out of doors.
With regard to the first objection, so long as Helle-borus Niger, Helleborus Maximus, and perhaps Helle-borus Rubra, the red novelty, are used, put singly into six-inch pots in October, kept in cold frames, or a greenhouse no hotter than 50°, and given a compost of two parts fresh turf loam, one part well-rotted horse-manure, half parts of brick-rubble and leaf-mould, there should not be any failures to record.
When buds appear the Christmas Roses can go into five, or even ten, degrees greater heat. They must not suffer for lack of water at any time, and should not experience sunshine.
With regard to the second objection, garden Hellebore flowers can surely have cloches, skeleton frames covered at times by oiled linen, or hand-lights, popped over them during spells of wet - snow, hail, or rain? Mud splashed up on to waxen white petals is bound to spoil them. But Stonecrops, or Mossy Saxifrages.
Skeleton Frame for Covering BY Oiled Linen.
Variegated Arabis, Or London Pride, can be used to carpet among groups of Christmas Roses in the semi-shady border, which will prevent their coming in contact with Mother Earth.
Lenten Roses are Hellebores that flower later, and offer many shades of rose and crimson.
Numbers of the smaller hardy bulbous plants can be made use of in woodlands, or beneath ornamental specimen trees on lawns. They should be placed in the spaces between the giant roots, as then soil can be introduced into hollows made for them, almost up to the trunks.